Gears of War 4 is one of the many new game releases of October, riding on the gravitational marketing waves of Battlefield 1, Mafia III (which is a massive mess on the PC - no surprise there), Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (which requires up to 130GB of HDD space), and countless other games - heck, even Star Citizen is shaping up incredibly well, and could be the best PC game ever made.
Well, what better way to celebrate the release of Gears of War 4 from developers The Coalition, then by running the DX12-powered game at the glorious 8K resolution. To refresh your memory, 8K is a mammoth resolution that renders at 7680x2160 - 4x the pixels of 4K, and 16x the pixels rendered than 1080p. It's strenuous, and I love it - I'm addicted to higher resolutions and refresh rates, which is why we're here today running Gears of War 4 in DX12 on Windows 10, at an insane 8K.
I've also tested Gears of War 4 with Asynchronous Compute both on and off, so we can see if it's adding to the performance, or not. As for the in-game graphics settings, I used a custom set of visual settings, with everything on either Ultra or High.
Just how crazy is 8K? Let's check:
Starting at 1080p, we're sending 124 million pixels per second being rendered - a good starting point. But at 4K things get serious, with 497 million pixels per second - and then the fun really begins at 8K, which bumps this up to 1.99 billion (that's billion with a 'b') pixels per second.
Gaming at 8K is rendering 300% more pixels per second than 4K, and a mammoth 1505% over 1080p.
Visual Settings Used in Gears of War 4
As for the graphics cards tested at 8K, I used:
- AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB (reference)
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB (Founders Edition)
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB (Founders Edition)
- NVIDIA Titan X 12GB (Pascal/Founders Edition)
Gears of War 4 is one of the best games released on the PC this year, after so many AAA games hitting the PC without the developers spending enough time on the PC port of the game. There are many of the biggest developers and publishers in the world pushing out these games, saying that they've spent time on the PC version of the game - like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, which was meant to have an excellent PC port - but ended up like the rest of them with a far from ready, let alone optimized PC port.
The Coalition have done a great job with the PC version of Gears of War 4, as it scales on a single AMD Radeon RX 480, a $270 graphics card rendering at 8K with performance per dollar that not just rivals the Titan X, but destroys it. The Radeon RX 480 is capable of 6.8FPS average at 8K... a $270 graphics card rendering 7680 x 4320, a resolution that won't be standard on desktop gaming PCs until 2025 or beyond at this point.
1.99 billion pixels being rendered per second for 8K, compared to the 497 million pixels per second being rendered at 4K.
AMD's betting on DirectX 12's improvements thanks to the new Windows 10-exclusive API getting "closer to the metal", a term used by AMD, NVIDIA and others that allows their GPUs to gain additional performance thanks to lower overheads on the API. AMD placed a lot of work into its own Mantle API, with the company seeing the future was outside of the ageing DirectX standard - pushing Microsoft to work with AMD, NVIDIA and others on DirectX 12.
The early work and commitment into DX12 from AMD is now paying off with Polaris, as it has an improved GCN architecture that really shines in Async Compute and DX12 - especially when games like Gears of War 4 are built from the ground up to take advantage of. The Coalition have been pushing that the PC version of Gears of War 4 was going to be something special, and they weren't lying - it really is, and it takes advantages of the latest technologies - especially DX12.
NVIDIA has been making inroads into DX12 in a big way, but AMD were interesting in changing the API game up with their introduction of Mantle. Mantle was an explosive way of shaking up the API strangehold at the time, and now we're finally seeing the fruits of that labor: DX12. NVIDIA has been pushing equally as hard into DX12 with its recent Pascal architecture, working directly with The Coalition on Gears of War 4 for optimal GeForce performance.
AMD's Radeon RX 480 at such a high resolution like 8K, is rendering pixels simply beyond what traditional gamers are using now - and it's keeping up. NVIDIA's behemoth Titan X flexes its muscles as it does in literally every other test available, and stomps all over it - while we're not seeing 3-4x the performance, we're still seeing 91% additional performance. The problem is, it's costing a massive amount on top - close to $1000 more than the RX 480.
Now, remember the Radeon RX 480 costs $270 while NVIDIA's Pascal-based Titan X costs a titanic price of $1199.
While we're being reduced to single digit frames per second, the performance seems pathetic - just 6.8FPS for the Radeon RX 480, and nearly twice as much with 13FPS on Titan X - but hey, that's 8K for you.
NVIDIA's new Pascal-based Titan X might be a monster graphics card in everything else, but so it should for $1199. The Titan X is 91% faster in Gears of War 4 in 8K, but it costs 344% more, making the Radeon RX 480 quite the pocket rocket of performance-per-dollar in DX12 and at 8K.
There's no other way to take this, but Gears of War 4 is one of the best examples of 'DX12 done right'. I need to find some sort of stamp, and begin approving games that are excellent PC ports, like Gears of War 4. We live in a world where we have gamers paying for Early Access games that are like cookies being baked in the oven that haven't even been formed yet, but we're paying full price and enjoying what we have at the time.
We're in the final chapter of 2016, and most of the AAA games that launched this year were filled with so many problems - where they were released too early like Mafia III, shouldn't have even been released like No Man's Sky, or somehow they bumped their head - like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. They're all from reputable AAA developers and publishers, yet were substandard releases that do not get the proper flak they deserve.
The Coalition should be praised with their work on Gears of War 4, and both AMD and NVIDIA have done a great job with day one drivers for Gears of War 4. We have full FreeSync and G-Sync support, UltraWide monitors will be happy with 21:9 support, and there's a massive list of visual settings to tweak till your hearts content.
The Future is Red
We're seeing AMD's work in preparing their Polaris architecture with superior DX12 performance, something that I expect will continue in an even bigger way with the next-gen Vega architecture, which should be unveiled in December. Vega will provide an even more refined GCN architecture, but the first unveils of it in early 2017 will reportedly be for the professional market.
As for DirectX 12, I hope to see more and more developers jump in and commit to the API, building their games from the ground up on it. Gears of War 4 is the shining example of this, with the DX12-powered game being one of the best-looking games on the Xbox One, all thanks to the new API. Microsoft obviously benefits in more ways than one, as Windows 10 is receiving one of the best-looking, and feature-packed game - while the Xbox business experiencing the same.
Battlefield 1 is right around the corner with DX12 support, so I'll be jumping directly into that the second that I can - hoping that we see identical DX12 performance and scaling.
Dear Santa: Please give me multi-GPU support in Gears of War 4 and Battlefield 1, ASAP - please? I promise I'll be good.